Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Sheffield Icons

3rd June 2017 marked the 60th anniversary of the handover of pilot scheme D8000 from English Electrics Vulcan Foundary at Newton-le-Willows to British Railways. The first of 20 pilot scheme diesel locos which would lead to a successful production run totaling 228 engines had appeared on the rail network. The class 20's soon found their worth and were a familiar sight throughout the early diesel era, often working in pairs bonnet-to-bonnet providing a lightweight 2000hp power solution (and also removing the issue of the poor visability for the loco crew when driving 'bonnet first'. While withdrawal of the class by BR began in the mid 1980's some members of the class did make it through to the privatised era, most notably with DRS employing a fleet of up to 15 modified class 20/3's. In more recent years Harry Needle Railroad Company (HNRC) has returned several class 20's to the main line for hire contracts, including to GBRf for work delivering London Underground S-Stock train sets from Derby.
On Sunday 16th July GBRf ran one of their occasional charity trips the 'Charitably Chibble' tour from Ipswich to Basingstoke (via Sheffield) employing a pair of HNRC class 20's for the section north of Peterbrough. GBRf turned out 20132 and 20118, the pair of Railfreight Red Stripe and undoubtedly the best looking locomotives of the class on the network today. As well as raising more than £21,000 for charity GBRf provided a great day out behind these locomotives of 60 year design vintage. While 20's were never common on passenger trains they certainly would have been regulars to the Sheffield area with many of the class being based at the large marshalling yard at Tinsley. 20132 and 20118 are here pictured at Sheffield station, overlooked by an icon of the Sheffield skyline the Park Hill estate, another product of 1957 when construction began. This modernist estate of 995 dwellings took influence from the work of French architect and urban planner Le Courbusier was initially popular but fell into decline in the 1980's and 90's. Controversially the estate was awarded Grade II listed status in 1988 becoming the largest listed building in Europe. Renovation of Park Hill began in 2009 and full completion of the scheme is expected in 2022.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Exploring the Wimbledon Loop

The pioneer of the class 319's, built from 1987 for Thameslink services, 319001 arrives into St Helier with a Sutton service on a hot 21st June 2017. 
Thameslink's Wimbledon Loop is one of those railways on the border between London and Suburbia that can often seem to be forgotten. Conceived as the Wimbledon & Sutton Railway it was a fairly late addition to the South London rail network opening between 1929 and 1930. It was originally planned that trains to Sutton via Morden would run as an extension of the District Railway branch to Wimbledon though in the event the link was never built and electric services were operated from the outset by the Southern Railway. When built the line served a largely rural area- particularly between the towns of Wimbledon and Carshalton with housing developers keen to extend the London suburbs promoting it's construction. Housing developments did indeed spring up along the route and the population in the area rocketed- however competition from the City & South London Railway (today's Northern Line) which had extended to Morden meant that passenger levels never reached the levels which were hoped for.
The future for the Wimbledon Loop - Siemens class 700's are now being delivered and entering service in ever increasing numbers. The 700 fleet is set to displace all class 319s' before the end of 2017. 700005 approaches Tooting. 21/06/2017
319443 arrives at West Sutton bound for Sutton. 21/06/2017
The service today is operated by Thameslink (part of Govia Thameslink Railway) to much the same pattern that was begun in 1995 when 'Wimbledon Loop' services began running through the Snow Hill Tunnel from Luton. Two trains per hour run around the loop in each direction before heading through Central London to Luton. A recent threat to the cross-London service came prior to the introduction of new trains to the route when it was proposed to curtail the service at Blackfriars in order to prevent shorter 8 car trains (the maximum length permitted on the Wimbledon Loop) from reducing capacity through the Thameslink core- after a campaign however the through route was saved. From the inception of Thameslink the route has been almost exclusively served by the dual voltage class 319's. As part of the 'Thameslink Program' these units are all being replaced by new fixed 8 car 700/0 trains from Siemens which should oust the remaining 319's during 2017. During the transition period class 377's have also appeared on the route. In addition to the all day Thameslink service a limited peak hours only service is operated by Southern using class 455's which run a service to/from London Bridge.
455843 leads a classmate into South Merton with a Southern
peak service from London Bridge. 21/06/2017
Many stations on the route are unstaffed and platform design is notable for the Island platforms on the section form Wimbledon to Sutton, many of which feature grassed central areas between the two running rails such is their width. The route is double tracked throughout with the notable exception of Wimbledon station where the down line through platform 10 has been converted for use by Tramlink over the former Wimbledon - West Croydon route leaving just the reversible platform 9 for Wimbledon Loop services.
One further notable feature of the route is the  'The Wall of Death' - a distinctive deep curved concrete cutting between Sutton and West Sutton which has gained its colloquial name form its likeness to motorcycle stunt fairground ride.

The familiar face of the BREL class 319 will soon be disappearing from Wimbledon. 319437 enters the single track section through platform 9 with an evening service towards Sutton. 21/06/2017

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

50 Years since the end of Southern Steam

34019 'Bideford' awaits it's fate at the end of Southern Steam. This was an excellent photo piece put together by the Mid Hants railway using their out of ticket 34007 'Wadebridge' (plus a little help from photoshop!). 34007's boiler certificate expired during 2016 and she now finds herself in the overhaul queue at Ropley.

BR Standard 4MT 76017 waits for departure time from Ropley with a shuttle
service to Alresford. 76017 spent it's entire career on the Southern based at
Eastleigh shed before finishing its days based at Salisbury.
Sunday 9th July 1967 was a sad day for the Southern Railway with the curtain finally falling on steam traction. The final routes to be steam worked was the main line from Waterloo to Southampton, Bournemouth and Weymouth with electric services taking over from the following Monday. This summer marks the 50th anniversary of the end of Southern Steam and has seen a great number of events, railtours and galas to commemorate the occasion. With work commitments preventing me from getting to the highly successful Bulleid gala at the Swanage Railway earlier in the year I was determined not to miss the 'End of Southern Steam' event at the Watercress line in early July.

Both diesel and electric traction replaced steam on the Southern.
33053 would have run alongside steam in the latter days, the
class being a product of BRCW at Smethwick from 1960-1962.
33053 is here seen with an engineers train including the working
steam crane (some of which worked into the 1980's for BR!)

The railway was hosting it's event over two weekends culminating on Sunday 9th July- 50 years exactly since the last steam hauled train to Bournemouth left Waterloo. Present at the line were four (working) Bulleid Pacific's accompanied by a host of other locomotives associated with the final days of steam on the Southern region. Weather on the first weekend was forecast to be changeable however the Sunday was blessed with almost wall to wall sunshine. The photos that follow are a fitting tribute to this anniversary and also a reminder of how thankful we should be that the UK has such a thriving preservation movement and that scenes such as these are still possible for us all to enjoy.

Double headed 'Pacifics' would not have been common- especially on 5 coaches! 'West Country' class 34053 'Sir Keith Park' leads classmate 34052 'Lord Dowding'* with a service from Alresford to Alton. *This is 34046 'Braunton' currently running as scrapped 34052.
35006 'Penninsula & Oriental' represents the 'Merchant Navy' Pacifics. This locomotive was making its first visit from the Gloucester and Warwickshire Railway where it has recently returned to service after a lengthy overhaul from scrap condition.

Another locomotive recently restored to working order is 34053 'Sir Keith Park' which entered service at the Severn Valley Railway in 2012. The re-built 'West Country' is seen with the final train of the day from Alresford to Alton.

Only one 'Air Smoothed' Bulleid pacific was present for the gala, 34081 '92 Squadron' visiting from the Nene Valley Railway is resplendent in SR Malachite Green- a livery it would have lost long before the end of steam in 1967. Looking quite the part, and demonstrating why the class were nicknamed 'Spam Can's' 34018 is seen heading towards Meadstead & Four Marks.
Over the course of the gala several trains have been reenacted including several freight trains using the lines restored wagons. BR Standard 4MT hauls a brake van special towards Ropley.

35028 'Clan Line' powers through Hersham in the last of the days light with
the 'Bournemouth Belle' on 5th July 2017.
On the 50th anniversary week itself a number of steam specials ran on the main line network. One of the most prominent was a re-run of the Bournemouth Belle, the premier Pullman service from London to Bournemouth. The Bournemouth Belle was last steam hauled on 5th July 1967 and it was to be 50 years to the day that the train was re-enacted with 35028 'Clan Line' at the helm. The date was also significant in being 50 years since 35028 last worked under BR ownership. While BR may have had no use for these locomotives 'Clan Line' has just returned to main line service following a comprehensive overhaul. She will continue to provide main line service for many years to come, often at the head of the luxury 'Belmond British Pullman' who's coaches were used for the re-creation of the Bournemouth Belle.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

A hot day in London- 22 June 2005

Those in the south of the UK will have struggled not to notice the heat this week as the mercury has soared to well over 30°c degrees since the weekend. While travelling in these hot conditions it reminded me of a very sucessful day out photographing railways in London some 12 years ago. 22nd June 2005 was another very hot day with temperatures peaking in the low 30's (Gravesend in Kent recorded it's highest temperature of the year the following day at 32.1°c. On the railways a lot is still very recognisable from 12 years ago but there have also been a lot of changes. My day started by heading to Barnes in South West London for the very final slam-door scrap move from SWT. GBRf's 66710 was hauling 4-VEP 3520 from Wimbledon running as 6Z41 the 11:05 to MOD Shoeburyness. The final service train for the SWT slam door fleet having run during May.
66710 haules 3520 towards Barnes. This was the last slam door to leave SWT aside from 'Celebrity' VEP 3417 and the two 3 CIG's which were kept specially for the Lymington branch.
59203 hauls an empty 'Jumbo' train from Acton to the Mendips

Next stop was Ealing Broadway where a variety of traction was on offer on freight services, plus of course the regular passage of Paxman Valenta powered HST's. Brand new were the Heathrow Connec class 360's which entered service just ten days earlier on 12th June between Paddington and Heathrow Airport supplementing the class 332's on 'express' services.

67029 sports it's then fairly freshly applied silver livery.

Freight was plentiful with the majority being in the hands of class 59's of various liveries. Aside from the flow of 59's class 60's were common with 60015, 60026 and 60061 being sighted within a few hours between Ealing Broadway and Acton Main Line. Other freight was handled by class 66's from Freighliner and EWS with a solitary wagon being hauled by a rather over-powered 67016. There were a couple of special workings which we had particularly come to see; 67029 in it's new silver livery and another slam door move with Freighliner's 47841 hauling South Central 4-CIG's 1867/8/9 as 5Z45 Stewarts Lane - Caerwent in South Wales.

Another of the almost endless slam door scrap trains- 47841 hauls CIG's 1867, 1868 and 1869 through Ealing Broadway.

220018 on a Brighton service at Clapham Junction.
Moving on from the Great Western it was time to end the evening the way that most of my trips ended around this time- with a few rides on what still remained of the 'slammers' on Southern and South Eastern. Workings were beginning to become more scarce but it was still not difficult to achieve an all slam door move first from Victoria to East Croydon and back before taking the 17:49 Victoria to Broadstairs (which was booked for the last 12-CEP at the time) to Bromley South for another slammer back into Victoria. A final 'blast from the past' on the way home is a Virgin Voyager at Clapham Junciton on one of the now withdrawn workings to Brighton. Thus ended a hot and sticky day sweltering in the sun- I'd do it again for those trains though! 

The joys of fresh air and slam doors during their last summer.

Friday, 16 June 2017

You win some you loose some...

If everything in this hobby worked exactly as one planned then I guess it would be boring. One of the things that keeps me entertained is that occasional sense of surprise- when something happens that you are not expecting. Of course it works the other way as well- sometimes the event you have planned for, or the picture you have meticulously planned doesn't quite go to plan- the light changes at the last moment, or worse, the train simply doesn't appear as you expected it or at all.

First, my 'win'- I was heading back from the pub in Surbiton where I had been with a couple of friends, seconds after descending to the country bound platform for my train home I noticed a streak of yellow passing through the London bound platform- a NR DBSO, a test train and on the back 37025 'Inverness TMD'. I had just time to check where it was heading on Real Time Trains before diving onto the next 'fast' service for London and beating it to Waterloo. Fortunately I had my camera equipment with me as I had been out photographing earlier in the day. Great to see this fantastic loco at Waterloo, especially in one of the low numbered suburban platforms. What good timing on leaving the pub!

Secondly my recent 'loose'. GBRf had published in good faith that for operational reasons the 23:50 Lowland Sleeper from Euston to Glasgow/Edinburgh would be powered by 87002 on 5th June. As 87002 is 'required' and with nothing planned the following day and seats available on the sleeper at late notice I decided to give it a go. Fingers crossed as I walked up platform 2 to view the engine- and there it was on the front of the train- 87002 'Royal Sovereign'. I took my photos and made my way to my berth at the front of the train. Checked in and then returned to the front of the train to await the departure- but what was this? 87002 was no longer there! 10 minutes before booked departure the loco had been removed from the train for reasons unknown and disappeared. It would never return. Some while later 90042 arrived to work the train the reason cited was a leaky cab in the class 87. A very unfortunate turn of events, but to be fair to GBRf there clearly was every intention of using the class 87 and these things do happen. Given the awful weather that night a leaky cab could have caused plenty of discomfort to the driver between London and Glasgow.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

37's to the Far North

37025 'Inverness TMD'  and 37421 at Wick preparing to head south with the SRPS 'Far North Explorer' tour on 3rd June 2017.
Those who know me will know that I don't tend to travel on many railtours- Given the choice I would much prefer to chase down the traction of my choice on service trains for a more 'genuine' ride. However I do make exceptions and when the Scottish Railway Preservation Society announced a tour to Wick and Thurso with a pair of classic class 37's it was an easy decision to book a few days off work and head north of the border.

37421 lead the tour from Inverness to Georgemas Junciton. During our first
photo stop at Helmsdale it catches the first of the days sunshine.
I had travelled the Far North line once previously, on a trip to Inverness with a class 158 which is the staple traction for the line, operated by Scotrail. The line is highly scenic (though the poor weather on this occasion did little to show off the landscape to me). The line is incredibly rural by nature and sees just 4 trains in each direction on weekdays. Thurso, the most northerly station in the UK and one of the termini of the route is 154 miles north of Inverness and a staggering miles north of Edinburgh (with a journey time of some 8 hours!). It was clearly going to be an epic trip and in light of the distance our train was due to depart from Edinburgh around 22:00 on the Friday night travelling overnight by way of Perth and the Highland Mainline to reach Inverness around dawn. We would then continue to Georgemas Junction to reverse before visiting both Thurso and Wick before beginning the long and scenic journey back to the Scottish capital. Overall this would involve more than 24 hours with our chartered train.

Friday 2nd June came and after a day in and around Edinburgh it was time to wait for our train at Waverley. As expected traction was a pair of 37's in the guise of preserved 37025 'Inverness TMD' and Colas Rail's 37421 (working it's first passenger train since withdrawal by EWS in 2004). For the run north I would be located towards the rear of the train formed of the SRPS Mk1 coaches. This was perfect- hopefully the chance to get some sleep and of course this would mean that the loco's would be at our end of the train for the daylight run south.

Sleep was of course hard to come by- and I'm not sure my poor earplugs, face mask left from the sleeper the previous night or the toasty ambiance of the coach (heated by the ETH on 37421) did a lot to help. Nor did the passengers opposite who gave a running commentary on how they could not get to sleep! Never mind- I was never going to get a good night's sleep in a standard seat on a Mk1 coach heading through Scotland overnight!

Leaky steam heat pipes powered by 37025's boiler.
At Inverness the first signs of 'proper' daylight (it never got totally dark all night really) were appearing on the horizon and while our locos were taken off the train and fueled the decision was also taken to swap them around putting 37421 at the head of the train. This loco was providing our heat- but with 37025 having a fully functioning and certified steam heat boiler the opportunity was too good to turn down. 37025's boiler was fired up and soon steam heating was warming the train (this being only the second occasion in preservation that a diesel train has been steam heated on the mainline). Unfortunately some leaky steam heat pipes in the stock did not help the passengers at the back of the train where it became distinctly chilly for the run up to Thurso! Breakfast was served before Georgemas Junction where the train was shunted to allow for the first southbound unit to pass our train. One locomotive was also run around so that our train could be 'top and tailed' for the branches to Wick and Thurso. After the stock had been watered we continued with 37421 powering alone to Thurso.

Here we left the train and took advantage of the optional coach tour to the very north of Scotland (well, as we had come this far!) heading to Dunnett head (the most northerly point in the UK) and to the more famous John O'Groats.

Re-joining the train at Wick the locomotives had been run around again to leave 37025 on the business end with 37421 once again tucked inside for heating purposes (37025 is through wired for ETH, however there was some concern the cables may not have been long enough to master the severe curves on this route!). The sun had come out and with the locos on our end of the train heading south into the Scottish Highlands this really was something to savour. The tour lost some time at Georgemas Junction waiting for a Scotrail Unit. The late running resulting in an extended stop further south at Brora, now very much in gloomy Scottish weather, to pass another unit while the booked stop at Dingwall unfortunately had to be curtailed (much to the disappointment of those wishing to stop here for Fish & Chips!).

Sunshine had become rain by the time we reached the Highland Mainline.
With 37025 leading our train pauses for a pathing stop at Blair Atholl.
After Inverness the train joins the Highland Mainline, no less scenic than the Far North routes but with a much increased linespeed and full semaphore signalling in many places. After climbing up from Inverness our train is recessed in order to let a Virgin Trains HST pass on the daily 'Highland Cheiftan' from London Kings Cross- this passes at speed proving this really is a main line despite the altitude and passing loops! Climbing on to Slochd and then Drumochter summits is a real test for our locomotives- excellent sound effects are heard from the head of the train with the locos left at full boar for some 20 minutes climbing the gradients.
A photo/pathing stop takes place at Blair Atholl as my journey begins to feel near to its end. Our train is now running to time having missed the long lay over at Dingwall and arrival at Perth, where I would leave the train, is on time at around 22:30. Those staying on to Edinburgh will enjoy another 2 hours of the class 37's but after 24 hours with this train I am definitely ready for bed.

What an excellent tour this has been- Great scenery, locomotives, company and even weather (in the most part). I'm sure I will be back again before too long for another SRPS tour- Kyle of Lochalsh must be high on my list now to reach with some classic Scottish 37's?
A final view of the train at Perth where we would leave for a proper bed. The train would continue to Edinburgh Waverley.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Nottingham Express Transit

One of the modern Alstom Citadis trams on the NET network calls at Nottingham Station. 22/05/2017
One of the original Bombadier trams at Wilkinson Street 22/05/2017
Nottingham boasts a 20 mile tram system serving 51 stations and served by a fleet of 37 trams. Launched in 2004 and extended in size by more than double by 2015 Nottingham re-introduced trams to its cities streets after an absence of some 68 years when the Nottingham Corporation Tramways were converted to trolleybus or motorbus operation with the final trams being withdrawn from service in 1936 in line with the transport plans of many UK cities around this time.
Todays fleet consists of 15 Bombadier Incentro trams (built for the inauguration of services from 2002-2003) and a fleet of 22 Alsthom Citadis vehicles (built from 2013-2014 for the expansion of services).

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Goodbye to the Bubbles

121034 in Heritage BR Green departs Little Kimble with the 18:04 to Aylesbury on 10/05/2017.

121020 at Little Kimble 27/06/2006
Entering service from 1960 the sixteen class 121 'Bubble Car's' have enjoyed a long and successful career on Britain's railways. While most units ceased to perform passenger services in the 1990's Chiltern Railways overhauled two class 121's from 2004 to work peak hour shuttles between Princes Risbrough and Aylesbury. The first, 121020 was turned out in a blue variation of the Chiltern Railways livery while the second, 121034 was outshopped in 2011 in heritage British Railways Green. The trains were updated with modern safety systems, central door locking and customer information screens. 

Drivers eye view from inside 121034.
Due to increasing costs and difficulty in maintaining the units the decision was taken that they would be withdrawn from the May 2017 timetable change with a class 165 DMU to replace them. This would bring the end to the longest serving DMU design in the UK after 57 years of service. The two class 121's were also the final vehicles to be fitted with only vacuum brakes on the UK network.
The final day of 121 operation was Friday 26th May with additional shuttle services running to mark the occasion. The final runs uniquely saw both bubble cars operating in tandem.

Chiltern Railways has promised to find good homes in preservation for these two DMU's and they will undoubtedly be in high demand joining a large proportion of the fleet which has already entered preservation from mainline service, many via subsequent departmental roles.
The bubble cars will certainly be missed plying their humble route through the Chilterns.

121034 passes through the Chiltern Countryside near Little Kimble working the 17:26 Aylesbury - Princes Risbrough 10/05/2017

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Colourful Colas 37's

37254 on it's first working since being re-painted out of it's preserved 'Intercity Swallow' at Kew East Junction on 21st April 2017 working from Derby to Hither Green with 37025.

37254 is seen again at Basingstoke on 10 May with a 1Q53 test train from Eastleigh.
On the rear of 1Q53 at Basingstoke is split-box 37099. 
The current operator of network rail test trains is Colas Rail who are using a variety of 'heritage' class 37's to power their trains. Class 37's are required on many duties due to their relatively light axle loading and good route availability which is particularly important on some lines which only usually see multiple units in normal service. To source locomotives for test train duties Colas turned to the preservation sector with many previously preserved locomotives now enjoying a second fling on the mainline.

This has been great for the enthusiasts and has seen a return for several great looking locomotives including a couple of much sought-after 'split box' 37's. Initially many of the locomotives ran in their former preserved heritage schemes, however the only two still retaining these are 37025 and 37057 (the former on hire from the SRPS, and due to relinquish test train duties once the full Colas fleet is in traffic). The 37's in their bright yellow black and orange have certainly been adding a splash of colour to the UK rail scene recently. Here are just a few of the class in action on the Southern region so far in 2017.

37254 suffered a fault while working 1Q53 on 10 May and was terminated at Woking. 37099 is seen departing from Woking Yard to return the train to Eastleigh

Some class 37's received a smooth front devoid of headcode boxes as part of either refurbishment or as a result of accident damage. 37116 lost it's during refurbishment by Transrail in the 1990's. It is seen here with a test train on 8th April 2017 heading towards Wandsworth Road having just departed from Victoria.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Swanage Diesel Gala 2017

45041 powers away from Norden towards Swanage. The high vantage point is provided by the National Trust's Corfe Castle.

33111 shunts at Norden Park & Ride 5/5/2017
The Swanage Railway is without doubt one of my favorite preserved lines in the UK and each May is host to arguably one of the best diesel galas in the country. This year was of course no exception and I headed down on the Friday to sample the action. Eight preserved locos took part this year from the home and visiting fleets, Class 20's D8059 and D8188 joined 26043, D6515 (33012), 33111, 45041, Class 47 D1842 and 50026. Four further visitors were sourced from main line operators with GRRf sending 73119, 73961 and 66741 and Colas sending 56096, one of the major highlights of this years line up.

50026 'Indomitable' between Corfe Castle and Harmans Cross.

GBRf 66741 'Swanage Railway' and 73119 'Borough of Eastleigh'
viewed from Corfe Castle heading towards Norden.
With 9 locos in action (one class 33 each day worked driver experience trains north of Norden) there was a lot to cover however as always I had a very enjoyable day on the trains and despite the weather being somewhat overcast at times got a good selection of photographs. The diesel gala is complimented by a beer festival at Corfe Castle and of course the stunning Purbeck scenery. From late summer the Swanage Railway hopes to begin running scheduled heritage diesel services through from Swanage to connect with the main line at Wareham.

56096 heads towards Swanage with the remains of Corfe Castle dominating the skyline.

56096 visiting from Colas Rail arrives at Harmans Cross with a service bound for Norden. 5/5/2017.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Back in Beijing

DF7 3020 is a pleasing site as it heads to the carriage sidings.
SS9 0091 hauls in mixed livery rake
Back in 2014 I made my first visit to the city walls overlooking Beijing Station (you can see that entry here), though I had visited the station itself in the early parts of my epic Trans-Siberian journey in 2012. This is a fantastic location overlooking the throat of the main station in China's capital for 'traditional' [non-high speed] services right across the country.
Three years can see a lot of change in China so I was interested to see what was different since my previous trip.

Pioneer SS9 001 departs from Beijing.
DF7 6511 enters the station to retrieve an empty train.
The most significant and unexpectedly pleasant change actually involved a large amount of paint! In 2014 the traditional green coaches with yellow lining were rapidly disappearing from the CNR network, replaced by newer vehicles wearing several smart, but less photogenic modern liveries. Fast forward back to 2017 and there is a major program to paint coaching stock into the traditional scheme! Around 80% of the trains seen featured smart green coaches, many of them modern double-glazed, air-conditioned examples though a spattering of older coaches including some with coal fired 'samovar' boilers could still be seen- mostly on international trains.

It is still possible to see DF4 hauled trains departing through Beijing Station (though it appears most are now ESC duties). On both of my trips there has been a flurry of activity late morning before the diesels seem to vanish. DF4 5293 departs with a green rake of coaches.

HX3D 0090 arrives with a freshly painted green rake of coaches from Jiamusi
There were some changes to motive power as well. On my previous visit SS9 in their red & white livery locos were very dominant, on this trip electric locos were more balanced with a mix of SS8, SS9, HxD3C and new HxD3D locos working the majority of trains. The HxD3D, built from 2012 were not around on my previous visit and look very smart in their largely red livery.

SS9 006 arrives with a train from Louyang 23.02.2017

As well as the main loco classes many others can be seen in limited numbers at Beijing station. On our visit a highlight was an HxD2 based on the Alsthom 'Prima' platform working a train in from ZhangjiakouNan. Also seen around the station area were seveal DF7 shunting locos, none of which were seen within the station limits on my previous visit. Diesels continue their general decline in Beijing with significantly less DF4 action on this visit. A very nice looking green double unit DF11 had been seen earlier in the week but sadly not when we were in position.
This spot continues to offer great variety and is highly recommended if you have a few hours spare in the Chinese capital.

HXD2 1017 has it's clear origins in the Alsthom  Prima locos. The double unit works in an arrival from ZhanjiakouNan while HXD3 0459 awiats its next duty.